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U-23 Men Surrender Two Late Goals and Settle for 2-2 Draw vs. JFL Side Rosso Kumamoto

KUMAMOTO, Japan (February 23, 2007) - The U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team spent 82 minutes controlling the match on the field and on the scoreboard before surrendering back-to-back goals that led to a 2-2 draw against JFL side Rosso Kumamoto. Adam Cristman netted a pair of second half goals off deliveries from Sal Zizzo to seemingly give the U.S. command of the match, only to see goals in the 82nd and 83rd minutes erase the lead and force the team to settle for a point. The U.S. finished their two-match tour of Japan with a 0-0-2 record, having tied the Japan U-22 Men’s National Team, 0-0, on Wednesday evening.

“For our team, it is disappointing to lose a two goal lead in the last 10 minutes of the match,” said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley. “Some of the play to get the lead was quite good, but we didn’t show a good mentality in finishing off the game. Give credit to Rosso Kumamoto for staying in the game and coming back. Overall, we have made some progress with this group over the last two weeks, and have a built a foundation for our work together in the future.”

The U.S. controlled the tempo from the opening whistle, and nearly put points on the board before the game had breathed to life. In the second minute, Arturo Alvarez whipped a free kick across the six-yard box where Rob Valentino had out-jumped his mark. However, the six-foot defender failed to make a solid connection as the ball skimmed off his forehead and out of bounds. The teams traded chances in the first 10 minutes, but it was clear the U.S. held the upper hand. Throughout the first 45 minutes the USA were able to combine through the midfield and find space down the flanks, but a lack of precision in the final third kept the score even going into halftime.

The U.S. came flying out of the gates to open the second half, and their persistence was rewarded almost instantly. Off a quick counter, Alvarez wedged a great through ball past a pair of defenders and hit a streaking Sal Zizzo who had timed his run perfectly. In one on one, he had picked out the far post only to see the ‘keeper make a fine kick save. The rebound fell to Cristman, who had alertly followed the play, and he calmly put home the game’s first goal.

The U.S. continued to probe the Kumamoto defense with runs through the middle of the park, and the Cristman-Zizzo partnership would once again pay dividends, this time sparked by the vision of Sacha Kljestan. The team captain cleverly laid a ball behind the back three and Zizzo used his superior pace to blow past several markers to reach the ball first. Turning the corner near the endline, he laid a perfectly weighted pass across the six-yard box that eluded goalkeeper Hiroki Kobayashi. It then became a foot race to the spot, with Cristman outworking his marker and sliding to knock the ball into the back of the net.

While still maintaining superiority in possession, the U.S. began to ease off on the pressure. Nevertheless, the hosts did not create any real scoring opportunities until back-to-back free kicks in the final 10 minutes, a stretch that would come to haunt the U.S. team.

A foul just outside the area set the table for substitute Daishiro Miyazaki, who calmly curled a bending free kick to the upper left corner in the 82nd minute to pull Kumamoto within a goal. Before the dust had settled, they had earned a seemingly innocuous free kick near the left sideline 40 yards from goal. The well-placed delivery finished its arc around the penalty spot, and defender Yusuke Suzuki won the challenge between Valentino and the on-rushing Justin Hughes. His glancing header sailed easily into the center of the net, setting up a frantic final 10 minutes as the U.S. pressed for the game-winner.

Two golden opportunities would come their way, both landing on the shoulders of midfielder Sean Franklin. With two minutes remaining in regulation, a quick USA counter put Kljestan in command of the charge. He slipped a ball wide to the hard charging Franklin, who found himself in alone on goal at the top right corner of the box. Choosing to take aim, he drilled a right-footed blast over the crossbar. Then with the final seconds ticking away, a clever combination between Kljestan and Zizzo in the area opened up space for Michael Harrington on the far left. Teeing up a cross, he picked out Franklin, who had raced across the goalmouth. His header from three yards out was miraculously foiled by substitute goalkeeper Yoichi Futori, who had scrambled back across the goal line and managed an improbable kick save to preserve the draw.

The draw keeps U.S. head coach Bob Bradley undefeated at the international level, combining two draws on this trip with victories against Mexico and Denmark as the head coach of the senior team. Bradley and assistant Peter Nowak will next get back to work with the full team at the end of March, convening a training camp to prepare for the upcoming friendlies against Ecuador (tickets) on March 25 in Tampa, Fla., and Guatemala (tickets) on March 28 in Frisco, Texas.

-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report --

Match-up: U.S. Under-23 MNT vs. Rosso Kumamoto
Date: February 23, 2007
Competition: Friendly
Venue: KKWing Stadium – Kumamoto, Japan
Kickoff: 7 p.m. local time
Attendance: 2,010
Weather: 48 degrees

Scoring Summary:
                                     1      2     F

USA                               0     2     2
Rosso Kumamoto      0     2     2

USA – Adam Cristman (Sal Zizzo) 46th minute
USA – Adam Cristman (Sal Zizzo) 57.
RKO – Daishiro Miyazaki 82.
RKO – Yusuke Suzuki 83.

Lineups:
USA: 24-Justin Hughes; 14-Hunter Freeman, 4-Patrick Ianni (5-Nathan Sturgis, 61’), 3-Rob Valentino, 20-Michael Harrington; 6-Quavas Kirk (15-Sean Franklin, 68’) 17-Sacha Kljestan (capt.), 7-Peter Lowry (2-Ryan Solle, 73’), 9-Arturo Alvarez; 16-Adam Cristman (12-Tim Ward, 73’), 11-Sal Zizzo
Subs not used: 1-Chris Seitz
Head Coach: Bob Bradley

RKO: 21-Hiroki Kobayahsi (1-Youichi Futori, 87’), 4-Yusuke Suzuki, 16-Daisuke Yano (18-Naoya Ootaki, 46’), 22-Takumi Morikawa; 15-Atsushi Ichimura (14-Kenichi Kawano,46’), 26-Syohei Yamamoto, 28-Kosuke Yoshii, 5-Takeshi Yagamuchi (10-Kiyoshi Saitoh, 57’), 17-Masahiko Kumigai (27-Daishiro Miyazaki, 46’); 29-Yosuke Kobayashi (9-Yoshio Kitigawa, 46’), 30-Yuichi Yamauchi (24-Masahito Endoh, 70’)
Head Coach: Tomoyoshi Ikeya

Stats Summary: USA / RKO
Shots: 11 / 10
Saves: 3 / 8
Corner Kicks: 2 / 7
Fouls: 8 / 22
Offside: 1 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
RKO – Daisuke Yano (caution) 21st minute
USA – Sacha Kljestan (caution) 31.
USA – Arturo Alvarez (caution) 86.
USA – Rob Valentino (caution) 90.

Officials:
Referee: Mr. M. Watanabe (JPN)
1st Asst.: Mr. J. Kashihara (JPN)
2nd Asst.: Mr. K. Murakami (JPN)
Fourth Official: Mr. T. Aiba (JPN)

Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Adam Cristman

U.S. U-23s Draw, 0-0, with Japan U-22 MNT in Kirin Challenge Cup

KUMAMOTO, Japan (February 21, 2007) — The U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team stood behind the stellar play of Sierra Mist Man of the Match Chris Seitz to earn a deserved 0-0 draw against the Japan U-22 National Team in Kumamoto, Japan. The more than 14,000 fans gathered at the KKWing Stadium witnessed a much-improved performance from the U.S. in the second half that earned the team a share of the spoils in the Kirin Challenge Cup, the first match under new head coach Bob Bradley.

Seitz made several key saves throughout the contest on a crisp evening in Kumamoto, twice getting help from the woodwork as well. Three other players from the squad that qualified for the 2007 FIFA Under-20 World Cup turned in quality performances, with defenders Nathan Sturgis and Tim Ward anchoring the defense while Sal Zizzo helped ignite the U.S. attack in the second half.

“I thought it was a good game,” said Bradley, who remains undefeated as a head coach for both the U-23’s and the full national team. “This is a new group, and in the first half I thought there were many players who were nervous. It took them a half to adjust, and I thought the second half was a very good step. The commitment was much better, and you could see the confidence growing as the game went on. It was a great atmosphere tonight and a good learning experience for our players.”

The newly formed U.S. team started out on unsure footing against a well-established Japanese side, searching to settle their nerves in the early going. They got a quick wake-up call early on when a counterattack led to a breakaway in the ninth minute, striker Sota Hirayama finding himself on the receiving end of a well weighted cross from Yohei Kajiyama. Seitz was quick to charge off his line, getting just enough of Sota’s strike to push the ball wide of the left post. Japan’s tall and mobile striker proved to be a handful throughout the evening, but the combination of Sturgis and Rob Valentino were equal to the task. Meantime, Kajiyama created another problem five minutes later, unleashing a 28-yard rocket that forced Seitz into a sprawling save.

“It was good to get my first game in with the U-23s. The intensity is very high, and it was one of the fastest games I have ever played in,” said Seitz. “I think it took our team a little bit of time to get settled in. It was our first game together, so we shouldn’t expect things to be perfect right away. We played much better in the second half and, in the end, it was a good result for us.”

The U.S. began to find some rhythm after a quarter hour, and after 20 minutes of staying well organized defensively, the attack began to show signs of life. Santa Clara midfielder Peter Lowry opened the bidding in the 35th minute, sending a riser from 25 yards over the crossbar. Five minutes before the interval, Arturo Alvarez showed some magical footwork when he sliced through a pair of defenders across the top of the box before turning a shot back towards the near post that barely skimmed wide.

The U-23s began the second half with much more poise and confidence, turning up the heat on the Japanese all over the field while piecing together several excellent combinations. The introduction of Zizzo and his pace instantly caused problems for the Japan defense. Still, it was the hosts who produced the first great chance of the second stanza. A free kick just outside the upper left corner of the area was delivered to the six-yard box where Hirayama found himself the beneficiary of a pick, rising to hammer a header that clanged off the crossbar.

The post would once again prove Seitz’s best friend, this time denying Koki Mizuno a goal after he diced through the box and tried to pick out the lower right-side netting. The rebound fell to Chikashi Masuda right on the doorstep, but again the quick reactions of Seitz preserved the shutout.

The USA produced the final two chances of the contest, beginning with a Zizzo header in the 89th minute that was powerful but predictably placed. The U.S. nearly snatched a win in the final minute of stoppage time when an outlet punt from Seitz hit substitute Michael Harrington in stride deep on the left flank in Japanese territory. Goalkeeper Kenya Matsui had mysteriously tried to beat Harrington to the punch, subsequently leaving the goal temporarily exposed, but team captain Masahiko Inoha recovered in time to block Harrington’s lofted attempt.

The U-23s will conclude their two-match tour on Friday night when they face local JFL side Rosso Kumamoto. Kickoff at KKWing Stadium is set for 7 p.m. local time (5 a.m. ET). The players will depart Japan on Saturday morning and return to their respective clubs to resume training.

-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report --

Match-up: U.S. Under-23 MNT vs. Japan U-22 National Team
Date: February 21, 2007
Competition: Kirin Challenge Cup
Venue: KKWing Stadium – Kumamoto, Japan
Kickoff: 7 p.m. local time
Attendance: 14,007
Weather: 53 degrees, clear

Scoring Summary:
            1    2    F

USA     0    0   0
Japan  0    0   0


Lineups:
USA: 1-Chris Seitz; 15-Sean Franklin, 3-Rob Valentino, 5-Nathan Sturgis, 12-Tim Ward; 6-Quavas Kirk (11-Sal Zizzo, 46’) 17-Sacha Kljestan (capt.), 7-Peter Lowry, 9-Arturo Alvarez; 16-Adam Cristman (13-Jacob Peterson, 69’), 10-Jamie Watson (20-Michael Harrington, 83’)
Subs not used: 24-Justin Hughes, 2-Ryan Solle, 4-Patrick Ianni, 14-Hunter Freeman
Head Coach: Bob Bradley


JPN: 1-Kenya Matsui; 3-Naoaki Aoyama, 4-Hiroki Mizumoto, 5-Masahiko Inoha (capt.), 8-Keisuke Honda (14-Akihiro Ienaga, 72’), 10-Yohei Kajiyama, 16-Takuya Honda (13-Hiroyuki Mizumoto, 77’), 18-Koki Mizuno, 24-Tadanari Lee (11-Takuya Kokeguchi,72’), 9-Sota Hirayama (20-Yasuhito Morishima, 87’), 22-Robert Cullen (7-Chikashi Masuda, 60’)
Subs not used: 12-Kaito Yamamoto, 2-Yugo Ichiyanagi, 15-Kota Ueda, 17-Atsuto Uchida, 19-Kazuhiko Chiba, 21-Yohei Fukumoto, 23-Akihiro Hayashi
Head Coach:Yasuharu Sorimachi

Stats Summary:
USA/JPN

Shots 9/14
Saves 5/6
Corner Kicks 7/10
Fouls 20/21
Offside 2/1

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Sean Franklin (caution) 63rd minute 
JPN – Naoaki Aoyama (caution) 68. 
JPN – Keisuke Honda (caution) 70.
USA – Tim Ward (caution) 75. 
JPN – Koki Mizuno (caution) 88.
USA – Sacha Kljestan (caution) 92+

Officials:
Referee: Chi Tang Wong (HNG)
1st Asst.: Ka Yu Fung (HNG)
2nd Asst.: Siu Chuen Lui (HNG)
Fourth Official: Minoru Tojo (JPN)

Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Chris Seitz

Three Players Added to U-23 MNT Training Camp Roster

Three players were added to the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team roster for their trip to Japan this week. Goalkeeper Justin Hughes (Colorado Rapids), defender Sean Franklin (Cal State North University) and midfielder Peter Lowry (Santa Clara University) were all invited in by head coach Bob Bradley to bring the roster up to 23 players. On Saturday (Feb. 10), the players arrived into Carson, Calif., where the team will practice at The Home Depot Center before heading to Japan on Friday, Feb. 16 to play two games. A total of 20 players will make the international trip, with Julian Valentin, Stuart Holden and Tally Hall available only for the training camp. During their time in Carson, the U.S. will scrimmage UCLA on Monday and Chivas USA on Thursday. In Japan, the U.S. will face the Japan Under-22 Men’s National Team and a still to be determined J-League team. The U-23 Men’s National Team head coach is Bob Bradley, and his full time assistant is Peter Nowak. For this training camp and part of the trip, Bradley is also assisted by U.S. U-20 MNT head coach Thomas Rongen and U-17 MNT head coach John Hackworth.

U-23 MNT Schedule
Date         Opponent
Feb. 21    Japan U-22s
Feb. 23    TBD (J-League team)

U-23 MNT Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Tally Hall (Esjberg FB), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake), Justin Hughes (Colorado Rapids)
DEFENDERS (9): Adam Cristman (New England Revolution), Sean Franklin (Cal State North University), Hunter Freeman (Colorado Rapids), Michael Harrington (Kansas City Wizards), Patrick Ianni (Houston Dynamo), Nathan Sturgis (Los Angeles Galaxy), Julian Valentin (Wake Forest University), Rob Valentino (University of San Francisco), Tim Ward (Columbus Crew)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Arturo Alvarez (FC Dallas), Nico Colaluca (Colorado Rapids), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Will John (Kansas City Wizards), Quavas Kirk (Los Angeles Galaxy), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Peter Lowry (Santa Clara University), Ryan Solle (New England Revolution)
FORWARDS (3): Chad Barrett (Chicago Fire), Jacob Peterson (Colorado Rapids), Jamie Watson (Real Salt Lake)

The 2008 MLS Rookie of the Year bounced back after an injury hit 2009 to become a regular again for the Los Angeles Galaxy. A speedy right back that is comfortable bombing down the flank, Franklin is back in January camp after injury forced his withdrawal two years ago.

  •  First called into the U.S. Men's National Team in 2008 when he was part of the MNT roster for the World Cup qualifier against Guatemala. 
  •  Made 25 appearances for the Galaxy in 2010, recording a career-high six assists.
2009: Was forced to leave MNT training camp to undergo surgery to repair a hernia … 2008: Part of the MNT roster for the World Cup qualifier against Guatemala on Nov. 19 … Under-23s: Played for the U-23 team in a 0-0 draw with Japan … Under-20s: Started for the U-20’s against Egypt in the Suwon International Youth Football Tournament … First Appearance: None … First Goal: None
2010: Made 25 appearances for the Galaxy in 2010, recording a career-high six assists … A regular for the team that won the 2010 Supporters Shield … 2009: Missed four months of action after undergoing surgery to repair a torn right hamstring … Made his 2009 debut in the season opening 2-2 draw vs. D.C. United on 3/22, playing the full 90 minutes at right back … Later in the season he was diagnosed with a torn right hamstring, forcing him to undergo surgery, putting him on the Disabled List … Activated from the Disabled List in September, making his return to the lineup four days later in a 2-0 win vs. Toronto FC … Was one of three players on the Galaxy to play all 390 minutes during the run to MLS Cup … 2008: Franklin was the 4th overall pick in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft, selected by the Los Angeles Galaxy … Made his MLS debut against San Jose Earthquakes on 3 April 2008 … Named MLS Rookie of the Year and the Galaxy’s Defender of the Year.

During his college years, Franklin spent two seasons with the San Fernando Valley Quakes of the USL Premier Development League ... Parents are Lynette and John ... Father played football and Cal. State University of Northridge ... Pre-game rituals include a fresh edge up and getting his car washed.

Franklin started all 67 games in which he appeared during his college career, finishing with two goals and 10 assists … Named to the 2007 All-Big West Conference First Team … He scored the first goal of his college career against UC Irvine as a junior on October 11, 2006 … Placed fourth on the team with four assists and third with 21 shots that season to be named All-Big West First Team and All-Far West Region Second Team.

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